Alaska Air National Guard’s newest state command chief heads into 2022 with vision and purpose

  • Published
  • By Spc. Grace Nechanicky
  • Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs

Chief Master Sgt. Kim Groat was selected to be the Alaska Air National Guard’s state command chief last fall, and she is embracing the position with her sights on motivating, inspiring and empowering Airmen.
 
As command chief, Groat represents the highest level of enlisted leadership and serves as the senior enlisted advisor to the commander of the Alaska Air National Guard. Her primary duty is to advise the commander on enlisted matters and serve as a direct conduit to enlisted members of the organization.
 
Groat’s exemplification of leadership qualities and diverse career experience, paired with her competence, humility and commitment to the mission and the Airmen are major reasons why she was selected for the state command chief position, according to Brig. Gen. Tracy Smith, commander of the Alaska Air National Guard.
 
“She is the most capable Airman for the job,” said Smith, who is also the Alaska assistant adjutant general for Air. “During my tenure, Chief Groat continually demonstrated to me that she is a humble servant who is driven to make others’ lives easier in her day-to-day dealings with the Airmen on our team,” Smith stated. “I have consistently observed that she’s just the type of natural leader who has a heart to serve others."
 
Groat epitomizes the values instilled by the U.S. Air Force, which are grounded in “integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.” These selfless and service-oriented core values are central to enlisted Airman leaders who take care of the force as a whole and at each individual level. Groat also believes these principles are a key to effective leadership.
 
“I think it is important to motivate, inspire, and empower our Airmen,” said Groat. “Our Alaskan Airmen have a competitive fighting spirit with creative minds that already come up with innovative ways to accomplish the demanding missions in our state. I am excited to help harness that fighting spirit and ingenuity to see where it takes us as an organization,” she said.

Groat shared that compassion, integrity and decisiveness, along with clear intent are important attributes for ensuring organizational success.

“I wholeheartedly believe, in order to lead you must show compassion for people, be honest and fair, demonstrate integrity, and be able to make hard decisions,” said Groat. “I believe those traits paired with providing a clear understanding of expectations and fairly recognizing and rewarding our Airmen is key to their success and in turn the organization’s success,” she said.
 
While serving as state command chief, Groat plans to promote an environment of diverse Airman capabilities that are conducive to a successful fighting force.
 
“I am proud to be a Vietnamese American woman and honor my heritage, but diversity and inclusion are not just about gender or race,” said Groat. “A healthy organization is also comprised of people at all levels from different cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. By bringing together our different backgrounds, skills, ideas, and experiences, we are better able to foster a strong and inclusive workforce with innovative ideas,” she explained.
 
Groat shared her perspective that a diverse force in every sense is what makes it a stronger force, able to successfully execute mission requirements, training, and exercises while also taking care of Airmen, prioritizing morale, and ensuring appropriate career progression.
 
Groat’s own unique background is one of the features that sets her apart as a multi-capable Airman. She has been trained in six different Air Force specialty career fields and has experience in medical, airlift, air defense, training, joint operations, personnel, command support and headquarters leadership. She has also worked in both of Alaska’s wings and at the state’s Joint Force Headquarters.
 
“Chief Groat’s diverse experience in the Alaska Air National Guard spans the medical, operations and personnel fields, and gives her a broad range of experience to draw from,” said Smith. “I’ve watched her thrive while empowering and engaging effective teams to solve problems, and while diligently serving our Airmen.  All of this and more made her my optimal and obvious choice as the Alaska state command chief.”
 
As the Alaska Air National Guard’s first female state command chief, Groat tipped her hat to her sister, a command chief who retired from Alaska’s 168th Wing in 2012.
 
“As I reflect on the legacy I would like to leave, I know I spent a majority of my military career watching and looking up to my sister through all of her accomplishments,” said Groat. “My sister was always an inspiration to me and I hope my selection for this position and my commitment to our Airmen will be an inspiration to others as well.”

Groat has worked with operators, maintainers and support personnel, and shared that it is the differences that each Airman brings to the team that helps foster a strong and inclusive workforce.

“Innovative ideas coming from many different levels results in a lasting competitive advantage for the Guard family,” she said.

Smith, who oversees the Air component of the Alaska National Guard, shared that Groat’s leadership qualities extend beyond working hard, professional competence and dedication to the mission. She explained that her senior enlisted advisor’s approachability facilitates communication at all levels, enabling her to resolve issues quickly and decisively.

“She is known as an empathetic listener, selfless servant and mentor to Airmen both up and down the chain of command, and her commitment to the mission and the people—while patiently dealing with challenges—makes her a good mentor and a great leader,” said Smith. “She quickly gains the trust of those around her, which in turn facilitates open discussion and resolution of issues and challenges.”

Groat’s distinguished service with the Alaska Air National Guard has prepared her for the responsibility of leading its enlisted force.

“The Alaska Air National Guard has been my family for almost 27 years, and I am honored, humbled and grateful for the opportunity to serve as the Alaska state command chief,” said Groat. “I look forward to the ability to make a difference in the lives of our Citizen Airmen, to advocate for Alaska's Airmen and their families, and to guide and develop our Airmen for the future.”

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